The Oxford and Cambridge Club is the result of a number of amalgamations of
university clubs, most recently that of 1972 between the United University Club,
founded in 1821, and the Oxford and Cambridge University Club, founded in 1830.
Members are drawn exclusively from the alumni and senior staff of both universities. Distinguished former members include Lord Palmerston: the Duke of Wellington, W E Gladstone, Clement Attlee and T S Eliot.
The Club house opened in 1838. It was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect who was also responsible for the British Museum. The facade is an important example of the Greek revival style with which Smirke was particularly associated.
The Club has always offered excellent food, although the menu has varied over the years. In the 1830s and ’40s, lampreys, Jersey mullet and lark pudding were highly thought of, while by the latter half of the nineteenth century, eel pie, ptarmigan pie and golden plover were prized.
Some members were so fond of the Club’s fare that they dispatched their own cooks to the kitchens on an ‘improver’ course, to be taught how to prepare their employers’ favourite dishes. These informal placements sometimes caused difficulties: in 1854 a minute book records that a cook had been in the kitchen for improvement for nearly eight weeks and records a resolution that henceforth six weeks be the maximum period allowed.
Today the Club’s facilities include over 40 bedrooms, an elegant Coffee Room – the traditional name for the principal dining room, two bars, two squash courts, a well maintained library of over 25,000 books with its own librarian, a business area and rooms that members can hire for social or business purposes.
We are grateful to Fellow Gastronome Alistair Telfer, FIH, for very generously hosting this event.